Dish Unveils ‘Virtual Joey’ App For LG TVs

Dish Network took a step toward a set-top-free world Sunday with word that it has developed a “Virtual Joey” software app that will deliver the Hopper HD-DVR experience to 2013 and 2014 model smart TVs from LG Electronics.

Dish said the app, when paired with those TVs, can be used in lieu of the company’s hardware-based Joey, a client set-top that obtains recorded content from the primary Hopper HD-DVR over the home network.

Dish said the Virtual Joey app, which can operate on wired or wireless home networks,  “provides a nearly identical experience to the Hopper Whole-Home HD DVRs currently available to Dish customers.” When loaded on an LG Smart TV, the app provides access to and control of the Hopper HD-DVR, including live TV, recordings and navigation of the program guide. This video demonstrates the Virtual Joey app running on an LG TV.

Dish said it expects to release the app in the first quarter of 2014.

"Television placement is so often dictated by where the set-top box can be and where the wires are -- this new application literally unleashes the TV," said Joseph Clayton, Dish president and CEO, in a statement. "Together, we are giving our customers more choice and control over their entire television experience."

Dish is demonstrating the Virtual Joey app at this week’s International CES in Las Vegas. The satellite TV giant is expected to make additional new product announcements on Monday.

DirecTV offers a similar feature using RVU technology that is built into select Samsung and Sony TV models. Like the Virtual Joey, DirecTV’s RVU approach extends full HD-DVR functionality without a separate Geni Mini receiver, when paired with DirecTV’s full-fledged Genie HD-DVR.